"Anything moving in the zone, even a three-year-old, needs to be killed."
When does a state reach the depths of its depravity?
When does the wider 'community of states' demonstrate its own collective depravity?
The answer to the first question can be variously interpreted. But here's a useful suggestion: when it openly instructs and sanctions the murder of innocent children. The answer to the second question might logically follow on, at least to any sane and rational observer: when it fails to highlight, challenge and end that state's depravity.
The practice of children being deliberately shot dead by Israeli soldies in Gaza might seem to the rational person so barbaric as to merit - at the very least - the ending of diplomatic ties with that state. But, of course, we are speaking here of the West's regional friend and ally, a state that can, effectively, kill anyone it likes with impunity.
Rarely does such wickedness even merit cursory media attention. Such is the corporate media's own depravity and complicity in such crimes. Occasionally - when the crime becomes so glaringly obvious - the details of such depravity might seep through, as in this more decent, if still rare, effort from the Sunday Herald.
How many dead children will it take, one wonders, before the crimes of this apartheid regime are responded to not with sanctions on the suffering people of Gaza, but on the perpetrators of this cruel siege and their army of child killers?
Palestinians dice with death in search of work
Territory’s stifling conditions lead many to risk crossing Israel’s fatal frontier
From Ed O’Loughlin in Nusseirat
ISRAEL'S BORDER with Gaza is one of the most dangerous frontiers on the planet: 32 miles of fences, watchtowers and free-fire zones guarded by tanks, troops and aircraft with the latest in sensor technology.
Violent deaths are so common here that few even make the local papers. Among those in the past fortnight alone were two armed Palestinians on an attempted raid who passed several hundred metres through the defences before they were shot.
In two other incidents, five Palestinian girls and boys aged 10 to 12 were killed by Israeli missiles in fields near the northern border.
Initially, the Israeli army implied that the children had been recruited by militants to recycle launchers used to fire missiles at nearby Israeli communities, an allegation which Palestinians reject.
And the Israeli army later admitted that three cousins who died in the second attack had only been playing in the area of a used launcher, but had been identified as "suspicious".
In October 2004, Israeli soldiers shot dead a 13-year-old schoolgirl near the Egyptian border. Would-be whistleblowers in the unit leaked communication tapes of the incident in which their commander was heard to say he had finished off the wounded child, ordering his men: "Anything moving in the zone, even a three-year-old, needs to be killed." He was acquitted by a military court, and later promoted.
Clearly, Gazans testing such defences are taking their life in their hands. Yet so deep has Gaza sunk into poverty that some men are prepared to try to cross the fence merely in search of a job.
One such was 22-year-old Nizar al-Adeeb of Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, who was shot dead on August 18 a few metres from the fence. His two companions were arrested.
The Israeli army told reporters the three were militants who had been trying to lay a mine. But one of the detained men, Nizar's cousin, Abdullah Faraj, who was freed three days later, said they were only looking for work.
He added: "The situation here is getting worse and worse, so we said, let's go and check and see if we can cross'. As soon as we got close to the border fence, the Israelis opened fire on him."
The dead man's father, Raji al-Adeeb, 47, claims to know of dozens of people who have managed to cross the fence and find work in Israel. Some, he said, pay 5000 shekels (£600) to professional smugglers. But most take their chances on the fence. The Gaza-based Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights says it knows of 55 unarmed men killed while trying to cross the fence in search of work.
The Israeli Defence Force does not give a breakdown for the number of Palestinian civilians killed while trying to get through the fortified frontier. But it says about 30 Palestinians have been arrested trying to cross in the past month. Most "were not terrorists and were returned to the Gaza Strip".
Another cousin of Nizar al-Adeeb, Abdul Minar, 23, said that the death would not prevent him from trying to cross himself. He said: "What else am I going to do? Sometimes I wake up and ask myself, what am I doing here?' I wake up, I wander around the neighbourhood and then I go to bed again. For me to die is better than staying here. Life? There is no life here."
Ghassan al-Adeeb, 24, the dead man's brother, says he has crossed the border four times in the past few years, at one time managing to escape capture and deportation for more than a year.
Those who do make it across can make up to 200 shekels (£24) a day as labourers in Arab-Israeli communities. Many are also lured by the relative freedom of life away from the overcrowded, authoritarian Gaza Strip.
"It's great over there," said Ghassan al-Adeeb. "In the beginning I was lost, but then I was in another world. Last time, if I hadn't been caught, I would never have come back to Gaza."
Before the Palestinians first rebelled against Israel's military rule 20 years ago, it was normal for people from Gaza to survive off indigenous textile and agricultural industries, by finding menial jobs in Israel, or by working in other Arab countries.
But ever-increasing Israeli restrictions on travel and trade - justified by Israel as "security measures" - have shut off Gaza from the outside world.
The Gaza director of the UN relief agency UNRWA, John Ging, says that what little industry remained in Gaza has been shut down since June, when Hamas took control from the former ruling party Fatah and Israel responded by imposing an almost total blockade.
As a result, he said, most of Gaza's 1.4 million people depend on international food aid. "The sense of imprisonment here is greater than ever before," said Ging. "People feel trapped and desperate people do desperate things."